#balanceforbetter International Woman's Day


Recognising that women make an equal contribution to all industry sectors.

Industrial photography of women in the workplace.

Industrial photography of women in the workplace.

Not wanting to roll out the ‘token’ woman although it did used to be the case in some industries, where a company wanted to show how they were cool and hip because they employed ‘a’ woman in a perhaps not a traditional roll.

It is now fair to say that when I am told that we are photographing an engineer in QC or in an energy plant I never know if the model will be male of female.

And that is the way it should be!

PS: A big shout out to business’ employing and running apprentice schemes and having women in all areas of engineering.

#balanceforbetter #iwd2019 #photographers #construction #industrial #engineering #offshore #naw2019 #naw19 #Intenationalwomensday

Skills Shortage - why we need #Apprenticeships.

The importance of apprentices and apprenticeship schemes to future economic success. #naw19 #naw

#naw National Apprentice Week. #naw19

#naw National Apprentice Week. #naw19

As an industrial photographer I travel and get to photograph many different locations, on many construction, engineering, manufacturing and workplaces the content I shoot shows a skilled workforce engaged in all types of tasks. Getting the image that delivers the story..people - skills - investment - safety can be a challange at times.

I review my photography and website regularly and critically, and one thing is apparent, the age of the ‘models’ in the images.

Often a business will have lined up thier best and brightest for the photoshoot, a wealth of knowledge about the work in hand and an experienced eye on the safety issues and making sure we are photographing content that shows best practice.

Most of the ‘models’ I see have a few years under thier belts..which is great for images as it shows experience, knowledge and integrity through their facial expressions..and a few road miles adds a little character.

HOWEVER..where are all the young faces..the ‘young un’ ‘junior’ ‘the lad’ ‘the lass’ ‘bag carrier’ ‘tea maker’..or in photography land ‘voice activated light stand’…OK the terms are probibly non PC, but I’m sure you get the drift.

wc March 4th, 2019 is National Apprentice Week, it cannot be stated enough that the future workforce is going to pay for all us old people..it’s a point of view..but importantly we (business community) have a massive skills shortage. Paricularly in the engineering, costruction and manufacturing sectors..in turn those jobs securing finance, adminstration, material supply, energy, transport, research..the list is endless.

I know there are many will think that the investment they make in starting an apprentice scheme is just training a skilled workforce to leave and go somewhere else, NO NO NO, it’s bigger than that, OK they leave..but when you advertise for experienced welders, turners, electricians etc..where do you think they are going to come from.

You might loose a few..but you will gain..may be from someone else’s scheme..perhapes someone who will bring with them new learning, a different way to improve your business.

The big picture is the skills shortage, those business that are making a choice to run apprenticship schemes are investing in their future success and growth.

As an industrial photographer I am looking forward to seeing the average age of the people in my photographs start to reduce..now..is there someone ypung to carry this heavy bag.

Mechanical & Engineering Photography.

Construction Industry Photographers.

Construction electrical engineering.

Find a very small space, fill with pipes heat exchangers, valves & pumps add an engineer, client, lighting equipment..and a photographer, then photograph.

Shooting M&E can be a challenge, photography in very small spaces is not just trying to ‘get everything in’ but to show an image that has clarity and some sense of depth.

Photographing the services that keep buildings working is either done during construction phase or as part of a re-fit or upgrade, either way job one on the list when getting to a location is the ‘tidy up’. I will often ask for the location to be tidied last thing day before the shoot..it gives the airborne dust time to settle and clear, brushing the floors when you are setting for the shoot just fills the air making for less contrast in the image..fills the camera and lenses..and me.

Getting a viewpoint can be a challenge, often there will be only one view that works or is the only place you can set the camera. Then adding lighting, using a technique of mixing both flash and light painting illumination can be used to highlight and add contrast and separation to each of the elements in the photograph.

Lens selection is also a consideration, not just a case of picking the widest shortest focal length but considering how the perspective can be made less extreme by image stiching with a slightly longer focal length lens.

The thing-ummy-bob.

"She's the girl that makes the thing that drills the hole that holds the spring that drives the rod that turns the knob that works the thing-ummy-bob"

the thing-ummy-bob.

The Gracie Fields 1942 song and used recently by merchant services provider Square. pretty much describes how complicated modern plant control can be, "the-thing-ummy-bob" could easily be used to describe all the wheels, valves, switches..even the graphical representations displayed on large screen displays in control rooms across the world. 

I have photographed epically large industrial complexes with state of the art automation..the kind of installations that everyone uses bicycles to get around..and there only being 2 people on shift to control it all. There's no arguing that the investment in making a safe, efficient, cleaner and a more productive plant is good news all around, but often there's no substitute for 'hands on' intervention.

It might just be one wheel attached to a valve amongst hundreds or even thousands that routes steam or product flow to a process or tank, but knowing just where to find that one valve when the screen graphic shows an adjustment or isolation is required come down to the mk.1 opertive.

The skill required just to turn a valve takes training, experience and knowledge, being able to recognise from a graphic on screen to the physical control "somewhere out there" only comes with 'hands on' experience..it's part of the whole package.

Industrial photographers do get to see a lot of thing-ummy-bob's, clients ask "we want to see people" ..not as easy as it sound's when there's so few around and they are all busy being productive, often this means seeing a potential image and having to return to the same spot with the 'model' and even then only getting 2-3 minutes before they are needed somewhere else. 

It's too easy to forget that industrial photography is not the most important thing -as an industrial photographer frustratingly it is to me (not that I take my work personaly…much!!)…that's where understanding your part in the grand scheme is important..my 'thing-ummy-bob' is just a small part of the process, it just needs planning and organisation to fit into the final product.

Long summer days industrial photography.

Long summer days mean late nights.

Industrial photography.

Industrial photography.

Long summer days can be productive if you need sunshine and skies..but for dusk and night photography the days only mean very late finishes and early starts.

Getting just the right balance of darkening sky and the working lights influencing the scene can be a short window of opportunity.  The 'Golden hour'..and 'Blue hour' are often used to describe the changing light from day to night. Getting just the right time to get a night sky and yet still have enought light to contrast the structure against the sky to retain it's shape and form but still dark enough to let the working lights on the building or structure to create the magical pools of light is more an art of observation than science. 

Spring and Autumn are often a great time for dramatic skies full of colour as the low sun helps the high level clouds to 'catch fire'  but not everyone has time to wait for just the right sunset/sunrise so in the meanwhile it's sleep depravation time.

Oil and Gas Photographers

Oil and Gas Photographers.

Oil refinery photography

Oil refinery photography

Working in an explosive environment, I do like to have structure and order in my images..it adds to a visual composition that adds clarity to a photo - using people as scale and points of colour to draw the viewer into the photo.

Sometimes in complicated environments where there is a lot going on visually adding carefully positioned people into the image can add a controlled 'quite' moment in the chaos to help the viewer see and understand the context of the whole environment.

Oil and gas and energy photographers international industrial photographers.

Oil and gas and energy photographers international industrial photographers.

I was asked to describe my work recently and came to the opinion that my 'style' is 'classic industrial'..in so far as it's a style of imagery that shows the thing being photographed as recognisable and using it's own form to create a visual image that tells the story. 

Safety is paramount, all my camera and lighting kit is battery powered..and to the best of my knowledge there are no usable to the image quality and versatility required intrinsically safe housings for the camera and variety of lenses. So under permit working it's always a 'hot works' permit on the basis of there could be a source of ignition from the camera or battery with everyone wearing a gas detector to monitor the changing conditions… the regular 'chirp' of the detector always ever present.  

Battery Storage Capacity.

EDF to invest $8 billion in battery storage capacity.

Battery storage capacity.

Battery storage capacity.

Industrial photographers in Renewable Energy battery storage.

Photography of people in industrial location. Commercial, Advertising Photography.

Next time you complain about no charge on your mobile phone just think what happens if there was no electicity left to switch on the TV, lights or your computer. 

Think of the electricty demand peak events such as commercial breaks in the X factor finals or the forthcoming royal wedding, those peak demands on generation planning require many assets to be brought on line just at the right moment, those assets needing to be running at full power before switching in the generators to produce the electricity.

To be able to draw down at a milliseconds notice enough electricity to bridge the gap between demand and generation means generation resources can be used more efficiently, and store power produced by renewable sources.

EDF have announced an $8 billion (£7 billion) investment over the next 2 decades in battery storage capacity, having already commissioned and brought online a 49MW facility they are continuing to move towards reduced carbon eneregy production.  

Nine images.

How do you choose only nine images, if you have looked at the portfolio pages on this website the issue seems to be too many rather than too few. I'm still looking at choosing a much smaller number of images to show my industrial photography, but am having separtion issues about reducing content.

9 images text.jpg

I ask myself..often..is it enough just to show a few images that show the type of work you do, or will visitors only assume that is all you can do..if you show a picture of an oil refinery can viewers make the visual jump to a paint factory. 

As an industrial photographer the locations we work in can be very diverse but still require the same level of creativity and skill to achieve great loooking images. Then add into the mix shooting to brand image guides and also creative post production, all making the body of work more diverse and creatively different.

I understand about creating a body of work on a single subject but if that is what you show will viewers ony think that is all you can produce. Perhaps it's time to hand this off to a picture editor or photo rep to decide, perhaps just too near the subject to understand the core of my own photography. 

Photoshop light leaks, cool tones and atmospheres.

Using photography blurs, light leaks, colour tone in Photoshop retouching to create atmosphere in location photography. 

Working to a brand's visual language.

Working to a brand's visual language.

Creating the image can just be the start of getting the photography to the client or designer, many international companies have over time developed their brand standards or visual language on how they want to show their business.

Although much can be done in post production, shooting the original content with the purpose of using post production photoshop adjustments will formulate the approach and compositions the photographer is aiming for.

The creative photoshop work is about creating a mood or feeling, working within a tonal or colour palette and engaging the viewer into the conversation. Using tone, colour and areas of light leaks and selective focus the photographer can draw the viewer into the parts of the image is the message.

Using creative post production techniques and photoshop to create the final image or library of images helps to identify your image style - making your media more quickly recognisable..giving your images a personality that reflects your business' values and culture. 

It's the whole package - the creation of the original photography on location working with post production Photoshop and Lightroom production techniques.  

The human context of industrial photography.

The human context of industrial photography.

Creative photoshop retouching for creative atmosphere in the workplace. Annual Report Photography.

Creative photoshop retouching for creative atmosphere in the workplace. Annual Report Photography.

Safety briefing.

Site safety inductions.

Throughout the course of a year it is fair to say that I get many safety inductions and briefings, as a contractor that in most cases goes to each site or location only a few times during the course of a project I am often going to a new location every week.

Screen shot from my LinkedIn feed.

Screen shot from my LinkedIn feed.

I have had my fair share of 'site welfare' use over the years..and every cup of coffee is always accepted with good heart and thanks. Some work sites are only temporary for the duration of a particular operation - these tend to have a smaller compliment of crews typically 10 -20 persons.

So by way of' thanks for the coffee' I will sometimes bring a 'something' for the site mess, upon presenting the sweet treats to the project manager "ah it's coffee time..come down and meet the team..you can do a tool box talk" 

I was introduced and asked to talk about my gift - it was great opportunity meet everyone and very brief tell the story of the message on the boxes, I really wanted to let everyone know that safety was the number one priority and thank them in advance for looking out for me.

The picture on the boxes is my one family - it's a few years old now but just reminds us all of what we would miss if we did not return home from work.